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How The Santa Fe Trail was accidentally discovered

In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and Missouri became a state. On September 1 of that year William Becknell headed out from Missouri to trade with the Indians in the West. They crossed illegally into Mexico, then ran smack into a group of Mexican soldiers. Instead of being arrested, the soldiers convinced Becknell’s party to follow them to Santa Fe to sell his goods. This he did and soon he was headed home with his wagons filled with silver.

With this success behind him, Becknell returned to Santa Fe for more trade by the fastest and easiest route. This route became known as the Santa Fe Trail. For nearly sixty years, it brought countless wagons full of trade goods. Their wheels left ruts that can still be seen today . The Trail was the main transportation route to Santa Fe, until the railroad connection to the East was completed in 1879.

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